There are strong indications that the dockworkers under the aegis of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) may withdraw their services from the nation’s seaports over the 110 per cent import duty imposed on rice by the Federal Government.
The indications came last weekend through the President General of MWUN, Comrade Tony Nted.
Speaking shortly after he was conferred with the Maritime Man of the Year 2013 award by Maritime Media Limited; Nted told reporters on the sidelines of the award ceremony that the policy had not only taken jobs away from dockworkers, but was inimical to the nation’s economic well being.
He said the rice policy, together with the quota policy on fish are impacted negatively on the volume of import at the nation’s gateways.
He said formal protest letters and petitions had been sent by the union to the appropriate government quarters without receiving any positive feedback.
He warned that his members will be left with no option but ground port operations should government fail to reverse the obnoxious and unpopular policies.
The federal had early in 2013 hiked the effective duty payable on imported rice from 60 per cent to 110 per cent representing 10 per cent customs duty and 100 per cent levy.
The policy had led to the diversion of all Nigerian-bound rice shipments to the ports of neighbouring countries.
The House of Representatives said last month that the country lost about N300 billion in 2013 to neighbouring countries as a result of the policy even as Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala admitted that the policy had led to heightened smuggling activities.